By Rosmalis Anuar
KUALA LUMPUR, March 30 (NNN-Bernama) — Thursday March 30, 2023 marks a historic milestone for Malaysia and Vietnam as both Southeast Asian countries celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations.
Noting that ties between both countries are more than cordial, Pacific Research Centre Principal Adviser Dr Oh Ei Sun said on that basis there will be a lot of expectations from the bilateral relations.
He opined that both countries could learn a lot from each other in terms of economic reforms and opening up.
“We should make good use of the common markets and FTAs (free trade agreements) to explore each other’s markets and to promote trade and investments,” he told Bernama.
Apart from the economic field, the senior fellow at Singapore’s Institute of International Affairs opined that there is still room for deepening and broadening collaborations between both countries, including in people-to-people bonds.
For example, he said there should be more direct flights between the major cities and more shipping routes between the major ports of both countries.
“Educational exchanges should also be strengthened, such that students will study more in each other’s universities and branch campuses could be set up,” Oh said.
Sharing the same sentiment, Director at the Centre of ASEAN Regionalism Universiti Malaya (CARUM), Dr Rahul Mishra said both countries can strengthen cooperation in various fields and work together to achieve socio-economic recovery and development.
This can be achieved by optimising bilateral cooperation in the areas of economic, labour, trade, investment, agriculture and fisheries, halal food industry, processed food, and electronic components.
These are bright spots to enhance bilateral ties between both countries, he said, adding that Vietnam and Malaysia should work closer to foster unity within ASEAN and promote the bloc’s centrality in addressing emerging regional issues.
“Both countries should maintain collaboration to improve the efficiency of various FTAs to which the countries are signatories; Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP),” he said.
With the signing of the strategic partnership agreement in 2015, Mishra said bolstering cooperation with Vietnam is a high priority for Malaysia.
In 2022, he said Malaysia and Vietnam bilateral relations marked another milestone with the establishment of the Malaysia-Vietnam Friendship Association (MVFA), which aimed to contribute towards deepening the friendship, cooperation and understanding between people of both countries.
He noted that Malaysia is currently Vietnam’s second largest trade partner in ASEAN and ninth globally, while Vietnam is Malaysia’s third biggest trade partner.
“Malaysia is Vietnam’s second largest investor in ASEAN with 668 investment projects and a total registered capital of US$13 billion, second only to Singapore, and ranks 10th among 140 countries and regions investing in Vietnam,” he said.
Both countries have agreed to strive towards the target of US$18 billion in terms of bilateral trade by 2025. Malaysia-Vietnam trade turnover in 2022 reached US$19.44 billion, up 16.2 per cent compared to 2021, he said.
“This is remarkable as the turnover has exceeded the set target of US$18 billion within a year,” Mishra said adding that this achievement goes to show that there are great prospects for both countries to explore and further enhance mutual growth and development in the future.
Vietnam’s main exports to Malaysia include rice, integrated circuits, broadcasting equipment, crude petroleum and electronics and components. Meanwhile, Malaysia’s main exports to Vietnam are integrated circuits, refined petroleum, semiconductor devices, raw aluminium and palm oil.